Border Lives: Kani Mase

“We don't want anyone here watching everything we do. We want to be able to go to any village freely, without fear. Now, if an animal wanders off from the others, farmers don't feel free to go and look for them. If they do, the Turkish military might shoot at them.”

In Kani Mase, Mr. Nadir told CPT: “The Turks established bases nearby the town in 1996. Turkey has now regularly bombed and shelled four local villages – two Christian and two Muslim."

Turkey has bombed and shelled the Christian village of Sardashti during the period of December 3-10, 2008. Only nine families remain in the village, though a further fifty returned for harvesting in the summer.

The village of Kara, on the other side of the mountain from Sardashti, was rebuilt in 1997, but abandoned in 2000 on account of Turkish bombing. The mother of a family told CPT: “We used to have wheat, barley, sheep, cows, trees, everything . . . It was like the Anfal. We just fled. We are very afraid.”

The Muslim village of Helwa is visible from Sardashti. Helwa is abandoned because a Turkish outpost is positioned above it on top of the mountain.

Yakmala is a Muslim village. It was abandoned by all of its inhabitants because of bombing and shelling from a nearby Turkish base. One farmer returns every 10-15 days to cultivate his gardens and tend the fruit trees. Out of the 150 families formerly living in the village, 20-30 people return occasionally to work their land.

The Christian village of Merkagiya is next to Yakmala. Mr. Ali told CPT: “This village was attacked three times during 1994 to 1996. The Turkish army came here into our house in 1994, took and tortured my brother. They broke his arm and put a plastic bag over his head to suffocate him…later he escaped but he has been ill since then.”

After 1996, people rebuilt the village and it became home to 200 families until the winter of 2007, when Turkey resumed its attacks. The two hundred families left home and thirteen men stayed to take care of the property.

At Trwanish, CPT saw only ruins. Mr. Darwa, a local guide, said that the village was attacked heavily in 1998. He also pointed to a Turkish military outpost nearby and said the outpost monitors human movement.

On April 25, 2009, CPT revisited the Kani Mase area. Villagers remain upset by the presence of the Turkish base. Currently, without notice, Turkish soldiers erect checkpoints at night. On one occasion during the winter of 2006-2007, a family was stopped at the checkpoint while trying to bring a sick family member to the hospital in Kani Mase. The family was forced to call the Asaish, the Kurdish security police, in order to continue to the hospital. On another occasion, TNT was placed on the road leading to the village. The Asaish were called, but were unable to determine who planted the explosives. The episode instilled a great sense of fear in the villagers, who believed that it was planted by the Turkish military.

A contrary view was expressed by the Mayor of Kani Mase, who believes that the Turkish military in the region are not causing problems, that the Turks coordinate their activities with the Peshmerga and are on good terms with the KRG.

~CPT (2010) "Where there is a promise, there is a tragedy", p.20.

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